long hikes early in the training cycle

  • Creator
  • #72294

    I hike at least one day most weekends, carrying a backpack that weighs twenty to thirty pounds. A typical route gains elevation in the 700 to 1000 feet/mile range and is two to six miles one way. Depending on terrain, my pace for a Z2 effort uphill is between 1.5 and 3.0 mph. On the downhill returns, I rarely get out of Z1. So most of my hikes are, time wise, longer (sometimes a lot longer) than the times suggested on our training calendar, especially in the earlier phases of the program (I am doing the intermediate).

    After our last zoom call discussion about how the program builds up over time, I started wondering if I need to change my approach. I guess I could bag the longer, harder hikes for now and stick to the times allotted in the training schedule. Or I could adjust the length of future hikes (making them longer) to account for the hikes I am doing now. Or I could divide the time differently between the two hikes each weekend, doing one longer and one shorter, so that they add up to the number of hours suggested in the plan.

    Any suggestions on the best approach here? I am aware of my tendency to think more is better. At the same time, my sanity level is highly correlated with the number of trail hours I log; decreasing the latter definitely affects the former.

  • Participant
    Richard Abbott on #72295

    I’m in a similar boat – when I’m in the beginning of a training cycle I just go a little slower on the long hikes than I might normally. Sometimes I’ll hike the workout first, break for snack/lunch, and then drop the pace significantly the rest of the way up – or vice versa. I’ve also done what you mentioned and moved longer hikes to later in the cycle, but generally I like to take advantage when I have a full day available – regardless of where I’m at in the cycle.

    I also don’t carry as much weight though – even in Z1 mileage carrying 30 pounds downhill definitely counts. In fact if I’m carrying weight for a portion as part of my plan, I’ll make sure most of it’s water so I can dump it out once the workout portion is done.

    If you keep it to low-Z2 and Z1, more might really be better in this case.

    Anonymous on #72297

    Bill, Long days that are outside the boundaries of what’s in the plan aren’t necessarily bad if the intensity is kept low and you are recovering well. A couple of things to keep in mind around this. You want to be able to progress the training over time so you need to leave some room for that. Also aerobic capacity is best built with a high level of consistency in training and a high frequency. A longer long day is fine assuming it’s not at the expense of getting the remaining days of the weeks training done and recovering from them.
    To your last point we all have varying level of needs for getting outside and keeping the mental stoke. Knowing and understanding your individual needs will always supercede other nuances of training theory.

    bill on #72339

    Richard, thanks for the ideas!

    Mark – thanks. Whatever we change, it sounds like there are a three basics:

    – have to keep up with the other training,
    – have to track recovery and not get trapped by over-training,
    – have to build aerobic capacity with regular doses of slowly increasing volume.

    So, if I have those bits right, the question is “how to adapt the plan to account for longer long days?” I seem to have three options: I can increase aerobic hours to match my long days. For example, if my long day is already a three hour hike (two in Z2 and one in Z0/Z1), I could just use that as my base and lengthen it from there. Or I can take the total hours I have in the two “heavy” days and divide them differently to do a light day and heavy day. Or I can cut back and do shorter hikes until my planned hikes are long enough to accommodate what I am already doing.

    I don’t imagine redividing the days really works as far as the logic of the training program goes. So is the first option – assuming that I meet those three basics above – wprkable? Otherwise, I should just drop back and do the numbers as designed.

    My apologies for my long, complicated questions. I am really trying to figure out how to (a) train while still getting out and having fun and (b) make program changes that don’t defeat the purpose of the work.


    Anonymous on #72389

    Bill, Youre thinking along the correct lines here and I 100% agree with your 3 basics and would add your mention of “train while still getting out and having fun” as a 4th basic. The plan has to work for you such that you’ll actually execute it in the long run! I think the first option as you describe them here is indeed workable. If you stay faithful to the rest week every 4th week or so and are honest with yourself about your recovery I think you’ll be fine. My guess is you can add in a good bit of Z1 to accommodate your desire for longer long days without and detrimental effect to our goals here. Where folks more commonly get off the rails is by adding extra Z3/4 type work.

    bill on #72390

    Thanks Mark!

    Indeed, I will add rule number four to my list. Thanks for mentioning Z1. Given the nearby terrain, my hikes are typically composed of steep sections linked by more gentle stuff or out and backs, so more Z1 time in a longer hike is pretty easy. I will think about how to adjust my hikes to make them longer without pushing the Z2 work up too fast.

    As for Z3/Z4 work… staying out of Z3 and in Z2 has, I think, made a big difference in my aerobic capacity. After a year of this, I am moving fifty to seventy percent faster and able to go longer in most terrain, while staying under my AeT (which hasn’t changed much). My ME and strength still suck but that’s what I will work on in this round of training.

    Appreciate the feedback. As much time as I’ve spent digging through TfNA and TfUA, I still need the cliff notes version sometimes!

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